Game Lens is a game photography feature. I hack, mod, tweak, and stress games (and myself) to not only make them as beautiful as possible; but to explore their environments free of HUD, overlays, and physical confinements; and take interesting, high-resolution screenshots.
Whizzing back to 2007, when UnrealEngine 3 was in it’s early days, and people thought the Heavy Rain “The Casting” trailer was amazing (watch it again now, I dare you), Crysis came along. Officially bringing graphical superiority back to the PC once more, as it happens with every generation, but in a way for the world to see what a high-end PC is capable of. Crysis kind of took the whole gaming community by storm; and even people who would never dream of gaming on a PC knew what Crysis was, and what it stood for, simply because of how incredibly gorgeous it was for the time. In 2007, Crysis looked like a next-gen game, only 2 years after the seventh generation of consoles had begun. Little did we know how long this generation would last, and the kind of visual quality developers would be able to squeeze out of them, with the PC at the forefront. Crysis eventually even came to the Xbox360 and PS3, albeit with considerably watered-down visuals. Up until recently, Crysis still remained a benchmarking tool for PC gamers to test out their new machines, but mostly because of how unoptimized it was.
November 2012 is the first time I’ve installed Crysis and actually thought to myself “Wow, this really doesn’t look very good.” 5 years is a long time in the gaming world, and we’ve come a long way. Luckily, the game has a huge modding community, and thanks to the wonders of mods, I was able to get it looking quite nice again. Although you technically couldn’t call it 2012 standards, and it isn’t technically as impressive as it’s successor; the lush and expansive environments can aesthetically hold their own with the slightly more generic (but more detailed) setting of Crysis 2. I helped it along here by rendering my screenshots in 15360×8640 thanks to a “tiledshot” command, twice the resolution of 8K HD (4320p), to completely get rid of any aliasing (which is quite bad on foliage) and maximize clarity and crispness once resized.
Settings & Tweaks: 8640p rendering (tiledshot), 4xAA + EdgeAA, custom distance LOD, Parallax Occlusion Mapping, time-scale adjustment, hidden view-model, noclip, custom FOV’s.
Crysis 2, on the other hand, is more of a multi-platform game with PC bonuses, than a game tailored for PC that puts hardware to the test. Although certainly very good looking, it opts for a much more linear and controlled environment in an arguably less interesting setting. We’re in New York here in yet another apocalyptic landscape, and it’s contrast to the huge, vibrant, almost open-world environments of Crysis is a little disappointing. On the other hand, the game makes use of some nice DirectX 11 features and “high-resolution” textures if you download the add-ons and have the hardware to handle it.
The game was visually varied enough to make my photo-tour of the game very enjoyable. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to mod and tweak the game in the ways I wanted to, as the developers locked off the console commands I needed, and I had to load each map individually in the SDK and play from there to have access to them. This not only meant I wasn’t able to use Maldo’s stunning HD texture pack, (as the SDK seems to have problems loading assets with that mod from my end), but also meant I wasn’t able to render in my usual 1940p, as I had to play in windowed mode.
Settings & Tweaks: 1620p rendering, CryEngine 3 SDK, Official DX11 & HD Texture Patches, disabled vignette, noclip, hidden HUD & view model, custom FOV’s.
Want more pretty pictures? Check out my Flickr here.